What’s Inside a Ski Anyway?

What’s Inside a Ski Anyway?

| Peak Product Team

We spend our winters running our beloved skis over chocolate chip rocks, water ice, death cookies, perfect corduroy, and, once in a while—dreamy Montana cold smoke powder. Because it’s not really the point of a day well spent in the mountains, most folks don’t think much about what’s inside their boards. But here’s a quick look for the curious by way of a factory tour. 

It starts with the wood core.

With Peak, we select our cores based on the desired performance of the ski. The more frontside (hardpack) oriented skis like the Peak 88 and Peak 98 get denser wood like ash and poplar, where the powder skis and sidecountry offerings get a mix of poplar, lighter weight paulownia, and a few polyurethane stringers to add damping.

Ski Wood Core


Then we reinforce the wood core.

Here’s a look at the upper layer of Titanal, the silhouette of which has been milled to fit our Peak 98SC. (Coming soon.) Titanal is a brand name for aluminum that’s been infused by metallurgists with just enough titanium to make it a better fit for ski construction. In layperson’s terms, Titanal offers a great balance of stiffness, strength, and vibration control to increase performance.

There’s a common misperception that metal makes a ski stiffer flexing. While that’s partially true, the stiffness is primarily controlled through the overall ski thickness in profile. Skis with metal laminates have that thickness adjusted at the core to retain proper flex. In reality, metal’s role is to damp vibration and boost torsional (twisting) rigidity for better edge hold. The only reason to avoid Titanal is to save weight—or money.

Upper layer of titanal

In this photo, the KeyHole has not yet been laser cut from the alloy.

Building a ski is like building a sandwich.

You begin with the base and edges (see photo), then add reinforcement (fiberglass and Titanal). Next up comes the core and sidewalls followed by more glass and metal. Finally, the top sheet is applied. The assembly demands skilled hands.

Here’s a Peak 110 built for big days. The lower layer of Titanal acts to balance the upper layer, but to save weight in a fat ski we only deploy a thin strip.


Our “powder core” is a mix of poplar, paulownia, and PU.


A first-ever look at Peak’s KeyHole Technology™.

It’s simple but ingenious. The KeyHole™ creates an inflection point in the longitudinal and, more vitally, the torsional (twisting) flex of the ski. The KeyHole effect means the shovel of the ski is buttery and forgiving but from the KeyHole until just behind the bindings the ski delivers remarkable grip on edge. That boosts confidence in a ski that isn’t demanding to handle. It’s Bode-approved execution, the ski DOES NOT hinge. It just grips and rips when you want it to.


We taper the Titanal at the tip and tail of the 110 to reduce swing weight.


Skis come out of presses looking kind of ugly.

A ski press adds heat and pressure, bonding the layers and resins into one composite entity. The top sheets overlay everything like bread that’s too big for your kid’s PB&J. That slash gets trimmed with computer routers before the skis enter finishing, which in the case of our Slovenia fulfillment partner’s factory, involves a line of stone grinders and computerized edge sharpeners that’s about as long as your high school cafeteria.


Skis out of the press
Skis getting belt sanded
Just like at a high end shop, the edges at the far tip and tail get belt sanded (above) while the running edges are finished with computerized cup grinders.


First you get skis, then you get pairs of skis.

The finishing line delivers ready-to-ski base grinds and edge bevels tuned to the micron, but the process isn’t over. Before the skis get banded together into pairs, a sophisticated machine that we can’t show you flex tests each ski. Skis with matching flex profiles get matched up as pairs so your left ski handles like your right ski.

Ski Inspection

Darrin Haugen, Peak’s VP of Design | Innovation | Production inspects some freshly minted Peak 88s.


Finally, they’re ready to rip.

Chris Davenport in Portillo, Chile